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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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St Helens 13 Leeds Rhinos 4

24th February 2006

By Leeds Rhinos

A second half try from Francis Meli was all that seperated the sides at Knowsley Road as St Helens ended the Rhinos unbeaten start to the season, winning 13-4.

Tony Smith was forced to make a late change to his side for the trip to Knowsley Road with Gareth Ellis ruled out on the day of the game with a knee injury. However, his replacement Jamie Jones-Buchanan made an immediate impact on his first start of the season. Less than 60 seconds into the game, he burst through a tackle and raced upfield making 40 metres on the charge. Leeds were playing the game at a million miles an hour and were able to force a drop out from the Saints. Despite heavy pressure, Saints were able to hold out and as per usual when these two sides meet it was an intense affair.

WP – Home MPU

The Rhinos had a try ruled out by the video referee after nine minutes when he adjudged that debutant Danny Williams was offside when Kevin Sinfield kicked from half way, Williams collected the ball and touched down but to no avail. However the young winger was not going to be denied when he got another chance. Good work by Matt Diskin got the Rhinos going forward and his long floating pass found Richard Mathers. The full back put a beautifully weighted kick into the corner and Williams pounced. Sinfield missed the conversion but the Rhinos led 4-0 after 24 minutes. The Rhinos then had to produce some incredible defence to keep Saints at bay as they rose in ascendency. Firstly, replacement Maurie Fa'asavalu was just hauled down as he was powering for the line before a desperate last ditch tackle stop Paul Sculthorpe. However, the pressure eventually told as Lee Gilmour forced his way over next to the posts with half time a minute away. Lyon added the easy conversion to make it 6-4 to the home side at half time.

The Rhinos had to continue to defend stoutly at the start of the second half as Saints came out with the clear intention of extending their lead as soon as possible. However it took an extraordinary run of decisions by referee Ashley Klein to get them their next points. Firstly Chev Walker was penalised for an incorrect play the ball despite the Saints player clearly pulling his leg from under him and then running away thinking he had been penalised. Then Willie Poching was penalised for following through on Sean Long when he kicked ahead despite barely touching the scrum half and finally Keith Senior was penalised for interference at the play the ball despite the offence looking minor in comparison to the earlier ruling on Walker. Lyon kicked the conversion to make it 8-4 after 53 minutes. However, Saints were not going to argue with their good fortune and soon added a second try through Francis Meli who powered his way over in the corner after good hands in midfield. Lyon missed the conversion to leave it 12-4 after 56 minutes.

The Rhinos got a massive let off after 65 minutes when Jason Hooper knocked on with the line in front of him but St Helens still had the lion share of possession and the Rhinos were making heavy weather of their challenge. The Rhinos tried hard in the remaining minutes but Saints continued to make Leeds play from well inside their half and they were unable make any head way. The game was sealed when Sean Long chipped over a drop goal to make the final score 13-4 to St Helens and ending the Rhinos unbeaten start to the season.

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